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Exclusive: Al Snow on OVW, Mahabali Shera and exactly how Vince McMahon influences careers

Al Snow is now one of the world's most respected trainers
Al Snow is now one of the world's most respected trainers
Gary Cassidy

Al Snow may very well be one of wrestling's most recognisable characters, but the former Tag Team Champion, European Champion and Hardcore Champion is a man with many strings to his bow - and has have accomplished possibly almost as much in his years outside of WWE - taking over OVW, starting his own chain of wrestling schools and even starting his own clothing label.

In fact, Snow even recently released his own book, called Self-Help: Life Lessons from the Bizarre Wrestling Career of Al Snow. So, what help might the former WWE man offer to current Superstars, and how does he look back on his in-ring career?

We caught up with the man himself.


Hi, Al. Thanks so much for joining me. If I'm right, you purchased Ohio Valley Wrestling last year. How's that changed in the year you've been there, and what can we expect from OVW going forward?

Yeah, I bought OVW from Danny Davis last year. It's been a whirlwind! As far as what has changed, I think I've really been trying to push and direct the talent to live up to their potential, really directing them and training them to be everything they could possibly be - and to that end, we've done a lot of big live events, live television broadcasts.

Last October, the first one of those we ever did live was our 1000th television episode, on October 10th. The only other television production that has that many consecutive episodes is WWE RAW, and SmackDown had their 1000th recently.

Since then, we've done several live television broadcasts and pay-per-views on Fite TV. We're going to do a tribute to the US Military at an army base on June 14th, live, and we're going to televise that on our broadcast television station here in Louisville, and we're going to do it live as a pay-per-view on Fite TV, and we're going to broadcast it on the armed forces network, American Forces Network, all around the world.

I'm trying to do a lot to expand the reach of television. We have a library of content that ranges from episode 57 to 1,028 and we have 100 monthly specials next month. May 11th will be our 100th monthly special that we do at the arena, so I've created a streaming network, with ovwwrestlingnetwork.com - and that's $4.99 a month, and we're creating other shows so it's not just our weekly or monthly shows, and you can get it anywhere in the world.

A lot of people thought the brand had died, but it's been going for nearly 30 years, so it's just about getting the name out there and growing it even further!


NEXT: OVW's innovation

COMING UP: What Vince does for you, and what he can't

Al Snow has owned OVW for a year
Al Snow has owned OVW for a year

We also have provisional approval here from the State system here in Kentucky to be designated as the first ever actual professional wrestling trade school. When young men and women are coming to attend, this is so big because you won't just learn how to wrestle in the ring.

It's a two-year course where we'll teach them backstage production, editing, directing, producing, writing, financial management, live event management, etc so they know all aspects of professional wrestling, but also of entertaining and broadcasting. It's a two-year course and we're holding, for the first ever one, we're inviting 300 athletes from all over the world to Louisville. We've sat down and developed quantifiable metrics that we can evaluate athletes on their performance and their ability to succeed at professional wrestling.

It's not a seminar, it's not a camp, it's not training. We can evaluate you using the DARI system, and it evaluates your biomechanics and metrics to determine your athletic ceiling and the potential for an injury based on biomechanics. If people want this, we're awarding the 15 athletes with the highest overall scores, both men and women competing for the first time ever, competing for the same course, we're investing $500,000 to award these men and women scholarships to attend the schools, and they'll have their dorm facilities taken care of, we have job placements so they can work while attending to pay their bills.

Wrestling always has a great entry plan but, until now, it's never really had a great exit plan. This way, athletes can actually have skills so, once their in-ring careers are over, they can continue a career in professional wrestling behind the scenes.


NEXT: Advice for young wrestlers

COMING UP: What Vince does for you, and what he can't

Jazzy Gabert trains at the ASWA
Jazzy Gabert trains at the ASWA

And something else you're the boss of is the Al Snow Wrestling Academy where people like yourself, Jazzy Gabert and Doug Williams are putting aspiring wrestlers through their paces...

I do have the academies - several throughout the UK. The Midlands, London, Sussex, Cheshire with Andy Baker. I've got two in Chile, one in Portugal, Greece, Denmark, Hungary, Romania - and Dubai as well. We tie all of those into OVW here in the States.


And you've written your own book, which was released this year, called Self Help.

The book really just talks about my career, but I tried to make it more entertaining and fun. I think everybody is always so resentful and bitter, and always has an axe to grind, and quite honestly, I've been blessed to do what I love to do for 37 years, so why should I be bitter?!

I'm pretty happy. I've got to fake-fight men in my underwear for 37 years! I've never had to work a regular job in my life, so I'm pretty happy.


If you could offer one piece of advice to young wrestlers trying to make it in the business, what would it be?

My advice to young wrestlers everywhere is the same to every single one, and that is quite simply two pieces of advice.

If you truly want to do this, one, never fool yourself. You can lie to anyone - we all do, we all lie every day - but do not ever lie to yourself. If you truly want something, you will find a way. If you don't, you will find an excuse. When you are making more excuses than you are finding ways, you clearly don't want to do it.

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Second piece of advice - invest time, money and effort in yourself. You're asking a promoter to invest time, money and effort in you, and you're certainly asking wrestling fans to invest time, money and effort when they're paying to see you.

What have YOU done to make yourself worthy of either of those investments? If the answer to that is, "Nothing," stay home. Do not ever treat this sport, do not ever treat this business, do not ever treat this art as a joke or a hobby. Either have a passion for what you want to do and treat this for what it is as a profession, or stay out of it. Do yourself a favour and buy a ticket.


NEXT: Wrestling at 55, Impact Wrestling

COMING UP: What Vince does for you, and what he can't

Al Snow is a man with many strings to his bow
Al Snow is a man with many strings to his bow

I believe you're still wrestling at 55 years old. What's the secret?

I'll be 56 in July, and the secret to still wrestling at 56 years old is...you've got to be just a touch insane.

Every day, I hurt to some degree or another, and if I didn't wake up tomorrow and feel like somebody had taken a cricket bat and beaten me from head to toe, I'd ask my son to kick me right in the w***y, so that, that way, I'd at least feel normal for the rest of the day.


In terms of Impact Wrestling. Being Scottish, I loved all of your British Boot Camp stuff, and the subsequent rivalry with Grado - but one person who springs to mind more recently that you shared a ring with was Mahabali Shera, who I believe is back in Impact after a spell with WWE. He seems like a man with all the potential in the world. What was it like working with him?

He does have all the potential, but here's the thing. It's only because nobody really knows this because of lack of experience, but you can have all the potential in the world, but the thing that takes the longest for you is to find your voice, find that thing that works for you.

Some people find it really quickly, some people will go years before they find it and create that persona. Look how long it took The Undertaker. No-one really pays attention or realises how long he was in the wrestling business before he became the Undertaker, it was about 10-12 years. How long had Steve Austin been in the wrestling business before he became Stone Cold?

Stone Cold wasn't always Stone Cold
Stone Cold wasn't always Stone Cold

I could go down the list of guys who've been in the wrestling business ten, 12, 15, 20 years before they clicked, before they hit the right thing. For me, it was 14, 15 years. Sure, I had success. I remember getting into wrestling at 18 and a lot of old timers said, "You're probably not going to make any money until after you're 30, kid."

It takes years and that's a kick in the old t******es that it takes so long, so much time, so much experience to really learn what you need to do, why you need to do it, when to do it to get the most out of it and in what way to do it. Sometimes it takes so long that, by the time you've figured it out, you're too old to do it.

No matter what process you have, it's going to take you time to figure that out, and that, for some people, happens quicker than it does for others. A guy like Shera, it's just taking him more time.

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NEXT: What Vince and WWE can do for you, and what they can't

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Putting your trainer head on, the Attitude Era is always looked back on fondly, and the roster was stacked. Is there anyone from your time in WWE that you think could have been a bigger star than they were? Did WWE miss the boat with anyone?

There were plenty of guys, but I don't think WWE missed the boat. You've got to understand, everybody puts the responsibility and onus on Vince, everybody puts the responsibility on the writers, everybody puts the responsibility on WWE.

Let me explain real quickly, and I'll make this very short, how this works.

Once you walk through the curtain, there is absolutely nothing that anyone in the back can do to help you, and there is absolutely nothing that they can do to hinder you - and that is the God's honest truth.

Al Snow - the big dog?
Al Snow - the big dog?

Now, can they do things, have you win certain ways, have you portray certain characters....blah, blah, blah, blah, blah? Yeah! And can they make it more difficult for you? Certainly! But if you go in the ring and connect with the audience, there is nothing they can do to prevent that.

And the way that this works is, whatever you do as an artist and an athlete in the ring is what Vince then takes and exploits, and promotes. Vince does not, in and of himself, make you a star. He gives you a platform to make yourself a star, then he exploits it and promotes it.

The more that talent would understand that, the better off professional wrestling as a sport, business and art would be.


Finally, I like to end on what I think might be a really controversial question, so I understand if you don't want to answer it.

Pineapple on pizza - yea or nay?

Oh! Yes!


A huge thanks to Al Snow for speaking with me.

You can follow Al on Twitter here, check out the Al Snow Wrestling Academy here, check out OVW here, and order his book, Self Help, here.

Edited by Riju Dasgupta

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